Microsoft released early preview versions of Windows Phone 7 smartphones to 1,000 developers last week to start giving them--and the world--a peek at what the new mobile OS can do. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the features the device lacks overshadow the features and functions that set the device apart from all of the copycat smartphones currently available.
Since the summer of 2007, smartphones have been measured against the Apple iPhone. Now, the once revolutionary design is the default standard and virtually every smartphone out there-from the EVO 4G, to the Droid X, to the Incredible, and of course the iPhone 4--have essentially the same basic form and features.
Microsoft abandoned the evolution of Windows Mobile and went back to the drawing board to develop Windows Phone 7 from scratch. Microsoft sought to take the lessons learned from the iPhone and the evolution of smartphones, and incorporate those elements in a unique OS that sets itself apart by being more business tool than consumer gadget.
Based on early reviews, it seems that Microsoft has succeeded on many levels. The Windows Phone 7 user interface is completely different than Windows Mobile--and completely different than the iPhones and Androids that dominate the smartphone landscape--in a nice, refreshing way. The hub-centric approach, combined with built-in integration with the Microsoft ecosystem make Windows Phone 7 uniquely suited as the best option for a business-oriented smartphone.
Sadly, though, Microsoft did copy the iPhone in a couple crucial ways. Not the current iPhone. Microsoft is following in the footsteps of the original iPhone by launching Windows Phone 7 without multitasking or copy and paste functionality.
As great and unique as the other elements of Windows Phone 7 are, the lack of multitasking, and copy and paste, make the device seem like a throwback to the smartphone dark ages (otherwise known as June if we're talking about multitasking in iOS). In fact, because of its suitability as a business smartphone, and the integration with the Microsoft ecosystem, these functions are actually more crucial than they are on other smartphones.
Business professionals on the go will appreciate the ability to view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, and to work in a native Outlook app. What they would appreciate even more would be the ability to receive an e-mail with text to add to a PowerPoint presentation, and to be able to copy and paste that information from the e-mail onto a PowerPoint slide.
Microsoft has a lot invested in Windows Phone 7, but it's coming late to a smartphone party that is quickly leaving it in the dust. The Windows Phone 7 platform has an opportunity to provide set itself apart from the iPhone clones of the world, but the lack of multitasking and copy and paste are severe limitations that could prove fatal.